Northern Ireland’s gardeners have been urged to help save the bumblebee by planting more pollinating flowers for this year’s Ulster in Bloom competition.
And to help sponsor Translink is giving away thousands of free ‘stock’ pollinator flower seed packets at its bus and rail stations.
The 34th year of the annual horticulture competition has attracted 142 entries representing councils, community groups, businesses, bus and rail stations all preparing to impress judges.
Translink chief executive Catherine Mason said the Royal Horticultural Society had reported a decline in bee numbers — a serious concern considering the important role they play in the pollination of flora.
“We have chosen to give away ‘stock’ seeds, a type of pollinator flower which supports bees and the transfer of pollen between plants,” said Ms Mason.
“We would encourage our passengers to pick up a free packet of seeds from their local station and help support local biodiversity.”
Speaking at the launch at Cultra Manor in north Down, Ms Mason called 2012 a flagship year for Northern Ireland: “It’s important that our cities, towns and villages look their best and leave a lasting positive impression with visitors,” she said. “The work undertaken by Ulster in Bloom also supports local biodiversity and this year, as part of our Go Eco drive, we are launching the Big Seeds Giveaway.”
Councillor Freda Donnelly, of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), said: “I would like to pay tribute to the council parks and technical services departments, the local In Bloom committees, the business community and the many residents for their valued contribution to the Translink Ulster in Bloom competition.
“This combined effort has made a notable improvement to the environment and townscapes right across Northern Ireland.
“This is to be applauded, and I know NILGA is most keen to encourage.”